Roll on, Justin Bonsignore.
As of now, it looks like no one is going to stop the Holtsville, New York, driver on his path towards his first NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour championship in 2018. For the sixth time this season, the veteran climbed out victorious on Thursday night at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Another victory, another extension on his points lead and another marque track knocked off his driving bucket list.
“It’s huge for our series, and myself in general,” Bonsignore said of winning at ‘Thunder Valley’ in his ninth start at the 0.533-mile oval. “We were really adamant to come down here and not points race. We wanted to win Bristol.”
Mission accomplished once again. He leaves the 11th race of the season up by 64 points on Chase Dowling, meaning it’s going to be difficult for anyone to close that gap enough to make a move.
The record performance comes with 474 laps led, which is the most in his career, and there are still five races left for him to improve on that number. With six, the 30-year-old has scored one-third of his career wins in this season alone.
Oh-So-Close Yet Again For Dowling
Chase Dowling is almost ready to climbout of his No. 15 LFR Chassis Chevrolet in Victory Lane.
Emphasize that “almost”.
The Roxbury, Connecticut, driver was a runner-up for the fourth time this season in the Bush’s Beans 150, and again found himself chasing the back bumper of Bonsignore’s modified in the final laps. Over the offseason, Dowling actually helped build the cars that Bonsignore is having success with. On one side, he’s elated for the success the LFR Chassis department is having this season, since he works in the shop full-time.
But he wants to hold that checkered flag. In the final laps, Dowling was all over Bonsignore, just couldn’t find a way to slide around him.
“Every time I got close, the spotter was telling him I was coming and he went to the bottom like he had to do,” Dowling said.
The runner-up effort was the fifth of his career, and continued what has been the best season of his Whelen Modified Tour career. He sits second in the standings, 64 from the top with five races to go, and even if he can’t catch Bonsignore and score the big trophy in October, he wants to hold at least one checkered flag.
“We are bringing fast cars to the track, we are a top-five car I think. If the No. 51 went back to the SPAFCO car, I think we would be in better shape,” Dowling joked. “We would probably have all the wins he has.”
Strong Run For Summers
In his 17-year career on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, Rob Summers has never tasted the glory of Victory Lane. But, in the last few years, he has come close.
Thursday, in the Bush’s Beans 150, Summers was fast in practice, qualified seventh, and made a late move to the podium passing five-time and defending champion Doug Coby in the final laps.
“We were just a little bit free to pass up top, but overall we had a good car,” Summers said. “It was big for our team, we needed this, it’s a big morale booster for the team. We’ve been fast, we just haven’t had the luck. I’m happy, it’s Bristol, and it is a blast to race here.”
Top Lane Comes In
With a tick different rules package changing the cars, the top lane around the ‘Thunder Valley’ seemed to work well right from the drop of the green flag.
When leaders caught lapped traffic during the initial green flag run, Timmy Solomito used the outside lane to roll from just outside the top five all the way to second, and eventually the lead.
In the final laps, while Bonsignore looked to hold off Dowling, he found himself using both lanes to cut through lapped traffic and hold his gap. All in all, the split racing between two lanes throughout the field allowed drivers to pick and choose and make up ground either way.
“I was shocked the outside came in, but it made for a really good race,” Bonsignore said.
Bush’s Beans 150 Notebook:
- Calvin Carroll made the trip to Bristol and was strong in the first segment of the only practice session of the day. However, his No. 25 Power with Prestige didn’t get the chance to take the green flag after the motor expired in the final minutes.
- Patrick Emerling started from second, led the first 52 laps, and looked to be on his way to contending for his second straight Bristol win. However, after spinning, Emerling could only charge back through the field to a fourth-place finish.
- Burt Myers posted his first top-10 run of the season, finishing ninth.
Much Needed Time Off
NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour teams will have two weeks off before they return to the track at Oswego Speedway on Saturday, September 1. It will begin a busy month — with stops at Riverhead Raceway, New Hampshire Motor Speedway and Stafford Motor Speedway also scheduled.